The Austin Veteran's Outpatient Clinic is a vast complex with more than 250 handicapped parking places in a designated handicapped parking lot the size of a football field. In total there are more than 1500 parking places.
The facility runs a 6 person golf cart driven by volunteers to help transport Veterans with mobility issues and their families, in some cases more than 200 yards. The current carts are older model vehicles which are frequently in and out of maintenance due to prolonged wear and tear along with age. When carts are out of service, Veterans must walk the distance to and from the building for their medical treatment often in the Texas summer heat.
“There have been times when I showed up for an appointment, only having to miss my appointment and return home, because there was no cart service that day and I was unable to walk the distance to the door.”
-Larry, a patient at the Austin Veteran's Outpatient Clinic explains why the parking lot shuttle is important for his visits. A 22-year Marine veteran who served in Vietnam and was awarded a Purple Heart, Larry suffers severe arthritis as a result of time spent as a POW during Vietnam. He has recently had back surgery to alleviate some of this pain but is still waiting for staples to be removed. As a former POW, Larry lives by the motto “We exist to help those who can’t help themselves,” which is why he agreed to speak on behalf of the veterans who use the parking lot shuttle service. “It’s not just me, if it wasn’t for the cart a lot of people might have to go home or walk that 100 yards very, very, slowly and painfully.’
(Current cart - upholstery condition, flooring condition presents a tripping hazard)
Many of the Veterans are of advanced age - war Veterans from WWII, Vietnam and Korea - and still others suffer from injuries from service during Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) and Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF).
The cost of a single electric cart begins at $15,000 but can run higher depending on added features (safety lights, inclement weather curtains). It should be noted that funding for a new cart with a service plan is low on the priority list of items to be purchased by/for the clinic when compared to medical equipment. The current carts were purchased as part of the construction of the new VA facility and there are no funds appropriated for the purchase of new carts.
How You Can Help
It is our hope that we can raise enough money to purchase at least one new electric cart with a local service plan and recruit volunteer drivers during this campaign. Any amount you wish to donate is appreciated and will greatly assist us in our efforts to ease the lives of the men and women who've bravely and gallantly supported our freedom over the past decades.
As memorial day approaches, we thank you for your caring, concern and support of our country's Veterans.
Thank you, Kate and Rich
- David Mintus
- Marlene Sweeney
- Jim Bagnas
- Barbara Thorson
Kate Thorson Greene